So I ran into a  stumbling block in kdenlive today.

In the past I’ve used multi-track audio editors (mostly Sony’s products) to mix music. As such, the layout in kdenlive was very familiar to me, and I’ve been relatively unsurprised to see how the tracks interact.

… at least in terms of video. For audio, the idea of using multiple tracks seems to leave something to be desired. I could split the audio clips just fine, but when I tried to crossfade from one track to another, I found it simply played the top track, and then the bottom one without fading the two.

This is kdenlive 0.9.6, so there might be changes by the time you download it, but it was a bummer to say the least.

My solution was to turn to the swiss army knife of Linux Audio, Audacity. There I could copy and paste the layers I wanted on different tracks and render the output appropriately. It’s not the most intuitive, as effects don’t have clean envelopes that you can edit with the mouse, but it got the job done.

Now I have a 3 minute track for drama instead of a 6 minute track.

With all that Kdelive packs in, you might imagine that a reverse effect would be included, but some quick Googling suggests that up until the latest version (which you’ll need to tap the ppa for if you’re on Ubuntu), it’s actually been rather tough.

As of the latest, there is a reverse option at the full clip level, but not as an effect at the sub clip level on the timeline. 

Re-importing your clips twice, once forward and backwards is an option if you need a lot of reverse footage. Otherwise, using reverse in Kdenlive looks like it will be a hassle. Implications don’t bode too well for lip synching, which I believe uses reverse a good deal, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

War - v001

A look at the second AMV I’ve started, War. I hope to enter this one in the dramatic category, and it’s undergone several revisions even before this.

Any feedback is appreciated. :-)

As I work on the instrumental drama piece, I find I’m torn between throwing clips in roughly where they should go and tightly editing the clips that exist. One seems like it would give a broader overview of the piece faster, while the other gives a more genuine sense of completeness.

At the moment, I’m sticking with the rough draft approach, because I’m not confident I’ll keep all the movements of the song and I need to know what to cut… but I may try the other approach if I could get a more solid plan together before I began work. Perhaps that will come with time.

Lesson of the Day: Git Isn’t Applied in Enough Domains

So, on a bit of a whim I decided to put the project I was building under version control. It’s only been a few days, but as an AMV newbie, I can say for sure that it’s already paying off.

Namely, I have a tendency to hit keys that I don’t understand… and then not notice for several more saves when I finally re-review the last 20 minutes or so of work. The first example was when I stumbled onto a mass shift tool that offset all my video clips and transitions by about a quarter second. Nothing matched up anymore and I couldn’t figure out how to move it back.

No problem with git. I just checked out the old version out of the repo and all was shiny and new again. There should be relative space efficiency as well, since the project file is just a big xml document.

In other words, in case this hasn’t been said enough, hooray for git!

== Experimental Project Approach ==

For the drama piece, I want to do an instrumental song, so there’s not going to be any chance of that problem… though there’s a new set of challenges.

To start I framed an idea in my head: Tenzin with his family + the rise of Amon + getting captured. After brainstorming a few types of scenes I wanted to include, I decided to scrub through the season and see what amounted to where.

Now, the source material is split on commercial lines, so each episode is in three parts. Ideally, I’d be able to create virtual clips and restore them in the project tree, complete with tags so I could slice and dice them all later. No such support in Kdenlive.

Instead, I made a video track with each type of scene I was shooting for and put the sub-clips on the timeline on the corresponding track. This gives an interesting view of how much footage I have in each category (Tenzin spends way more time with his family than fighting, for example), and will help later when I cut the audio on the music I’m working with.

Draft number 1 of my first AMV. I started this Tumblr a little late, so this is about a week’s worth of work. It is GROSSLY INCOMPLETE with LOTS OF BLANK SPACE, but it’s a first step.

As with all creative endeavors, I’m approaching this project with a few constraints that I would like to share with everyone.

First, as a big Cal Newport fan, I’m following his advice to target a specific venue for feedback. Mine will be one I’ve attended for years, the Dragon*Con Fandom Music Video Awards. I’ve attended for several years but never entered, and I think it’s a good place to start. I hope to create 1 video for each of the 6 categories before the deadline, August 23rd. While I know I can only enter 3, it seems like a good stretch goal.

Second, I’m choosing to narrow the shows that I edit. Namely, I’m going to stick to the first season of the Legend of Korra. Several reasons include: the discrete-ness of the amount of video, the fact that I captured some very high quality video from the legal streams, and that I like this show a lot. I’m hoping the restraint breeds creativity as I ponder how to slice the show 6 ways.

Third, I’m going to do my best to ignore the pain of frame rates, scanning types, and so on until it becomes absolutely necessary. I’m sure these are important topics that have measurable outcome on the finished product, but I can’t get excited about them at this point. All my video is the same size, encoding, and frame rate… so I’ll tackle the challenges of merging videos with differences another day.

It isn’t possible to edit a video without a video editor. So, time to solve problem #1.

It surprised me when I took a deeper look at the subject just how many video editors for Linux there were. Granted, many are currently somewhere between theoretical and very unstable, but I would’ve guessed that there would only be one or two projects.

That said, once the minor projects were discarded, there were only a handful of editors that natively ran on Linux that fit the bill.

Minimum Requirements

  • Support for multiple tracks
  • Support for transitions
  • More effects is usually better
  • An interface that isn’t too harsh on the eyes

The Contenders

After browsing all the project sites, scouring YouTube videos for some comparison tutorials, and installing more than a few editors, the final list of viable projects came down to:

  • PiTiVi
  • OpenShot
  • Kdenlive
  • Cinelerra

PiTiVi was very pleasant at a glance, but the features didn’t quite seem to be there for intense editing. If I was only looking to do basic smash cut and fade videos, it would probably be fine.

OpenShot and Kdenlive seem to have a pretty similar feature set, with work in the future devoted towards features that won’t impact your typical AMV editor.

Cinelerra is the elephant in the Linux video editor room, and certainly seems to do everything you could want. However, it’s pretty garish to look at, and if you’re not on Ubuntu (or Arch, I assume) it seems like it would be tricky to install.

Ultimate Decision

Ultimately, I chose to go with Kdenlive, because it felt like the right editor for my style. I may need to switch to Cinelerra once I get more advanced, but I’m comfortable with Kdenlive to start.

For those that are curious, I altered my layout similarly to the way it’s laid out in this YouTube tutorial. Those are also pretty solid video tutorials for anyone unfamiliar with Kdenlive.

Greetings all, and welcome to a little corner where I plan to document my adventures in learning to make Anime Music Videos. 

There are a handful of canonical guides on, but I’ve made the mistake of thinking too hard about projects rather than executing in the past, so I’m going to dive in.

The only twist I’m going to bring to the arena is that I’m going to be using my Linux machine to do all my work. That means no Adobe Premiere, no Windows Movie Maker, none of it. Instead, I’m going to use open tools wherever possible and document what I find here for the benefit of all.

Wish me luck, and I hope something I write here will be useful to others.